Category Archives: family

hello, washington, d.c.

After spending the week[end] with my parents, G and I thought it would be fun to drive down to Washington, D.C. and spend Memorial Day there. We didn’t stay long, but it was still fun to check out some of the sites.

Here are some snapshots of the Washington and Jefferson Memorials:

Then, we walked along Pennsylvania Avenue and peeked through the gates to see the White House.

We also got to see the historical United State Supreme Court. It’s neat to witness where our country’s laws get passed.

It was really hot and humid that day, so we scurried across the street to check out the United State Capitol. The architecture on this building is incredible.

Lastly, we stopped by the Library of Congress.

Before the sun started to set, we needed to head back up towards NYC.

Although it was only for a short time period, it was fun to enjoy the holiday exploring our nation’s capitol. I managed to obtain a ton of NPS cancellation stamps in just one day, so I’m excited about that. Hopefully, next time we will have more time to check out all of the Smithsonians. In the mean time, I’m just happy that we got to visit.

I still have more blogging to come. The Pacific Northwest post is coming soon!


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Filed under family, personal, vacation

hello again, nyc.

I have been in and out of NYC this past year a handful of times, and I’m totally in love with the city life. It’s like I can’t get enough of it. The last time I was in the city, however, was different. We invited my parents to come hang out with us for the week. We spent the week showing them all of the tourist traps [and eating delicious food].

Before we actually headed into the city, we were stationed in Bergen County. We took Mom and Dad out to dinner at Gao Thai Kitchen, one of my favorite Thai restaurants in the tri-state area. I’m glad they both really loved it.

We even took them to have their first Shake Shack experience. Mom totally loved the ‘shroom burger just like I expected [we like the same kinds of food], and Dad really enjoyed his frozen custard.

On our first day in the city, I showed them how to use the subway.

Then, it was off to Battery Park to catch our ferry to Liberty Island.

It was a foggy day in the city, so I didn’t get a clear shot of the skyline, but we still had fun taking pictures in front of Lady Liberty.

After walking around Liberty Island, we hopped on the ferry to get to Ellis Island. I love the historical aspect of this island; there is so much to see [and learn].

…and then, we tried taking pictures with the skyline in the background, but the fog wouldn’t dissipate.

We spent time examining the name wall, then back on the ferry to Manhattan.

Next stop on our agenda was the Wall Street area. I took them to Federal Hall first because I needed to get my NPS cancellation stamp [yup, I collect those stamps].

Showed my parents the NYSE.

…and the famous Grand Central terminal as well:

The next day, we had to take them to [in my opinion, the best ramen ever!] Ippudo. Just as expected, they absolutely loved their bowls of ramen.

G and I took them to Times Square. They were in awe of all the lights.

..and before heading back to the Westin Grand Central, I wanted to make a stop in Soho to do some shopping with Mom.

I forgot to take pictures of our spacious suite before we got situated, but here’s some pretty views from our the window:

The next morning we all went to mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Afterwards, we headed towards the Rockefeller Plaza.

We were fortunate that it was a clear day because the views from up top the Rockefeller were ideal.

Everytime I see this picture of my Dad, I can’t help but laugh. What a goofball!

For lunch, we grabbed a beat to eat at the Chelsea Market, and later stopped to eat up on the Chelsea Highline.

Before we headed back to the hotel to rest up, we stopped at Washington Square Park [my favorite spot on the Manhattan map], just to enjoy the warm weather.

Later that afternoon, my parents really wanted to see the 9/11 Memorial site. They haven’t been in the city since 2004 [it still looked like Ground Zero then], so it has drastically changed since then. Besides, it was only a couple days after the new museum’s opening, so it was a perfect opportunity to take them.

Being by the Freedom Towers always gets me. If you plan on visiting the Memorial, expect a lot of graphic images and videos of the events that happened that day. If you don’t want to relive the events of the day, I don’t recommend walking through parts of the museum. It was pretty hard for me to get through it because I remember the terror I felt that day so vividly.

The next day, we dropped my parents off at the airport, and on to Washington, D.C. it was for me and G. I’ll save that for another post though. It feels like I’m never going to catch up with all of this blogging, hehe.

Stay tuned!


Filed under family, personal, vacation

hello, bora bora.

I decided to take a hiatus from blogging, but it feels great to be back. However, while I was out, lots has happened.

Traveling has kept me [and G] busy in the past four months I’ve been absent. Quite honestly, I wish I blogged about it then so that the memories would still be crisp in my mind. However, I suppose the thousands of photos I took will allow me to remember everything.

I suppose I’ll start off recapping the big event, my 30th birthday. Gloria [majorly] surprised me with a trip to Bora Bora.

Here’s how it went:

We spent the day driving down the coast of California. My only instructions were to pack for sunny, tropical weather. I assumed that we were just doing another one of our drives down the coast.

…but instead, we were headed towards LAX. When we got to the rental car drop off at the airport, I knew we had a flight to catch. My next guess was Hawaii, but we headed towards the international gates. At this point, I knew it was someplace tropical I had never been to before. Once we arrived at the check-in counters for Air Tahiti Nui, I knew exactly where we were going. French Polynesia, here we come!

On our flight to Bora Bora, G was ecstatic that Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue was sitting behind her, haha! He’s the guy directly behind and to the right of her in the picture:

When we got closer towards the island, the view from the sky was incredible. It was unbelievably mesmerizing.

Upon arrival to the island of Bora Bora, the plane parked on the runway. All the passengers deboarded the plane to the adjacent [very little] airport. When you walked into the airport, you looked for your resort’s kiosk stand. In our case, the St. Regis Bora Bora concierge was ready to greet us with a lei and take all of our baggage. Pretty much from the time you arrive, they treat you like royalty. It’s insane!

While the other guests staying at the St. Regis were getting situated, we were told to enjoy the view and get settled in the yacht. Yup, a yacht, which means that from the airport, everyone has to take a boat or yacht to get to their booked resort.

It turns out that Nikki Sixx and his wife were headed to the St. Regis as well, except they were on their private charter [fancy!].

We were ecstatic over the “commoner” yacht, hah! I mean, c’mon, they carried all of our luggage. That was good enough for me!

One of the St. Regis concierge checked us in on the way to the resort, so it bypassed us standing in line in the lobby. Wish this happened for all hotel or resort check ins! The views on the way to the resort were breathtaking, but I got the most excited when the yacht cruised past the bungalows. It looked unreal.

Once we got to the resort, the St. Regis concierge and our personal butler were there to greet us with fresh pineapple juice, cold Evian bottled water, and cooling towels. I wasn’t joking when I said they treat you like royalty once you get there!

Check out this gorgeous lobby!

After taking a handful of pictures, our butler, Carmen, toured us around the huge property in a golf cart.

Everything still felt surreal when we got to our bungalow. We walked in, and I literally had to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. By the time we got there, all of our luggage was already placed in our walk-in closet. Um, hello!? Yes, to the St. Regis butler service!

Here’s a peek into our Bora Bora home:

I couldn’t get enough of the glass floor bottoms all over the bungalow. It was so neat to watch the sea life when they’d swim by.

Because we had been in transit for a long time, I wanted to get settled and take a shower. G told me that when I was in the shower the concierge came by and dropped off SPG platinum complimentary gifts. At this point, I thought they sent over a couple of cookies or treats like they typically do when we stay at other SPG resorts. Boy, was I wrong! They royally spoil their SPG platinum guests!

If you know me, you’d know that I’m in love with French desserts, and those treats totally hit the spot. The lemon meringue was to die for, and those macarons were heavenly. After stuffing our faces with yummy delectables, we decided to get out and explore the resort.

Even after our serene walk to the main lobby, it still hadn’t hit me that we were in Bora Bora to celebrate my 30th birthday! It was when I walked towards the resort’s dock when I realized, “Holy crap! I’m in Bora Bora? …Oh my gosh! I’m in Bora Bora!”

We continued to walk around and stumbled upon the cruisers to get around the resort [that is, if you didn’t want your butler to drive you around]. Getting around on the cruisers was so much fun, especially when we got to explore all parts of the resort.

We found the resort’s lagoon with all kinds of marine life. They maintain it on an everyday basis, so guests can snorkel in there.

We even found the resort’s very own heliport [oh you know, for the rich and famous] with the gorgeous views of the open ocean. It’s on the backside of the resort, and you pretty much have to ride your bike through a dirt path. There’s tons of sharp rock on the path, so you have to be careful! It’s worth the ride though!

After playing on the backside, we went to explore the main beach on the resort.

Before the sunset, we wanted to play on our bungalow’s deck, so we hurried home on our cruisers. We were so ocean ready!

The following day was March 18th, my birthday! The sunrise was nothing like I had ever seen. It really took my breath away. What a way to have started off my 30th!

We got ready [slabbed on tons of sunblock], packed for a fun-filled day out at sea, and took our cruisers down to breakfast. We had to take advantage of their delicious breakfast. My gosh, their breakfast was amazing! Fresh tropical fruit. Yummy French inspired pastries. Charcuterie and cheeses galore. Freshly marinated olives and tapenades. Caviars and tartars. Omelettes. Freshly squeezed tropical juices. And to top it all off, they had a separate menu, which you ordered off of right after they pulled your chair out and laid your napkin on your lap. Royalty treatment, I tell ya!

…and I ordered the eggs benedict off of the menu.

Fueled up and ready to hit the ocean, we took off on our sea-fari.

It was incredible to see such untouched waters of the world. The water was so incredibly clear [and turquoise].

One of the most memorable things I have ever done in my life – swam with reef sharks and sting rays! It wasn’t scary at all. The sharks are friendly, and they mind their own business.

After swimming with the sharks and rays and playing in the coral gardens of Bora Bora, we headed back to our resort to play in the lagoon. There were some massive fish in there [about 5 feet long].

…and the birthday fun continued:

We even played a game of pool in the club lounge [which I got my butt whooped]. I didn’t care, though. It was my birthday and we were in Bora Bora!

We spent more time lounging on the beach and enjoying the walk up bar in the pool.

The day was PERFECT, in every sense of the word, but it just kept getting better. Carmen, our butler, notified us that we had to switch rooms, but we wouldn’t be disappointed. They upgraded us for my birthday to the royal over the water bungalow! Mind you, this is the bungalow you always see in the pictures of Bora Bora when you google it.

When Carmen drove us up to the bungalow, I was shocked. We had our own entry way with our very own doorbell. You open the door, and there’s a walkway to our very own private two bedroom, two bathroom bungalow, with our very own private pool.

Upon entry, there’s a main living room.

…and it’s pretty much the same set up inside as our first night, except there’s double of everything.

Below is a picture of Gloria and Carmen walking on the deck.

To make things even better, when I was in the shower, there was a special delivery just for me. Courtesy of the pastry chef of the resort, we were sent my very own birthday cake! It’s one of the best cakes I have ever had. It looks small in the pictures below, but it was much bigger in person [and so very filling].

To top of the night, we heard fireworks nearby. Sure enough, the Four Seasons resort [which is across the water] had a fireworks show going on. I’m not sure why, but we’ll just keep thinking it was in celebration of my 30th, haha! It was so beautiful; the island is so remote, so the lights glistened on the water.

The following day we woke up at the crack of dawn just to watch the sun rise. The colors in the sky were lit up, and it looked so magical.

For the rest of the day, we pretty much swam in our pool, played in the ocean, and lounged around on our deck.

That night we hopped on over to the Le Meridien, as there was no availability left at the St. Regis for the last night we were on the island. It wasn’t as fancy as the St. Regis, but it was still nice [with gorgeous views] for a Starwood property.

Below are some photos from the inside of our bungalow. It had a huge glass floor bottom, a walk in closet, and super modern bathroom.

We played on our deck a lot. Well, we mostly watched the sea creatures that swam under and around the bungalow.

While we were outside on our deck, we heard someone knock on our front door. It was the concierge dropping off more gifts. Yummy macarons, delicious macaroons, and fancy champagne to end the night!

While we were there, we also got to see hawksbill turtles.

…and we snorkeled some more. Seriously, I can’t get tired of playing in the ocean!

Sadly, this was the last sunrise we saw on our vacation, and it has been missed since I last saw it.

Best vacation of my life. Ever. Until I go back, I’m not sure what could top this trip. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to see this part of the world. I have left a piece of my heart there, so I know I’ll have to go back in the future. Hopefully soon, I’ll be basking in the sun on the beautiful island of Bora Bora once again.


Filed under beach, family, personal, vacation

christmas and NYE 2013 recap.

Umm… where did 2013 go?! Oh, that’s right… back over there! Obviously, I haven’t been blogging very much recently, so I wanted to do a quick recap of some fun moments this past month for documentation purposes. These kinds of posts make a good time reference in the future.

Earlier in December, I finished my first 5k with friends. I can now cross that one off of my bucket list. Wahoo! Surprisingly, it was lots of fun, and it’s something I would definitely do again. As a matter of fact, I’ve been trying to search for my next race. Yup, we dressed up as elves to get us into the spirit.

As far as our 2013 Christmas tree, we decided on keeping it metallic and white. It was pretty much a gold and silver tree this year.

Overall, it was a wonderful holiday season. Yeah, it’s nice to eat delicious holiday food and get lavish gifts, but the best part about this season, at least for me, was feeling blessed to have spent lots of quality time with the people I love.

As for New Year’s Eve, we spent it at the beach, of course!

Later that evening, as we rang in 2014, we popped a bottle and enjoyed the fizz.

To start off the new year with a bang, we drove down the coast this past Sunday. We had a little family picnic on one of our favorite beaches in Big Sur. I think the four of us should just become professional beach bums, hah!

Yup, and that pretty much brings us up to date with life. We’ve got stuffed planned this weekend, so expect a post in the near future.

Happy 2014!


Filed under dog, family, hilo, maui, personal, vacation

take me back to nyc.

Long post ahead.

It’s no secret; I love the New York City life. The food choices are phenomenal, and the fashion is by far my favorite part! If I could have it my way, I’d get up and move in a heartbeat. Alas, the Silicon Valley will do for now.

We flew back to NYC for one of Gloria’s many business trips, and I, of course, tagged along. It was such a wonderful (and chilly) week filled with lots of memories.

Day 1: It was late afternoon by the time we got into the city, but that didn’t stop us from exploring! First stop after checking in at the Westin Grand Central was Shack Shake in the Grand Central Terminal (which, by the way, changed their crinkle cut fries, argh!). It had been six months since our last visit to Manhattan, so I needed to sink my teeth into my beloved ‘shroom burger. It’s my favorite vegetarian burger. Deliciousness!

Here’s our room view of the Empire State Building:

…and that delicious ‘shroom burger is the one on the right. The one on the left is Gloria’s Shake Stack burger.

Then, we headed uptown towards Rockefeller to see the tree. It was so unbelievably sparkly and festive.

Because it’s just a block over, we stopped into the historical St. Patrick’s Cathedral to say a prayer (or two).

We also roamed around in the park in the frigid cold. The photo below captures such a perfect moment in time.

To end the night, we hit up Serendipity. The first time I went to New York, I really wanted to go, but I didn’t make it up there. Each time there after, I always wanted to go, but time did not allow (because the wait was always 2-3 hours long). This trip, however, Gloria planned for us to have dessert there. Besides, the wait wasn’t too long; I killed time shopping in Bloomies, haha! It was perfect.

Day 2: Normally when we travel, we don’t just lounge around and sleep in as some would do on vacation. Instead, we like to get up at the crack of down to get our day started. However, on Day 2, it was all about sleeping in, hah! What?! We were out super late last night roaming the city. Besides, it’s the city that never sleeps, right?!

Anyway, that morning I wanted to try this local brunch place, Penelope. The line was, of course, a little bit over an hour, so I thought it would be fun to check out the well-acclaimed Ace Hotel. On our way there, we saw the J.crew and Madewell sample sale, and the line was super long! ARGH! If I wasn’t on a time constraint, I would’ve wanted to wait in that line. Once we got to the hotel, we walked in to try Stumptown coffee, which was fantastic, and to play in their lobby photobooth.

Shortly after, we headed back towards Penelope for brunch! I ordered the Nutella french toast with carmelized bananas and an apple cider mimosa. Goodness, it was so, so very delectable.

After brunch, we headed towards the Flat Iron Building. It’s always fun to see the architecture of this building, so different and unique. Plus, there’s great shopping in this area, haha!

Next, we headed uptown towards the Upper East Side to do more shopping. I love the shops up there. They have the finest stuff. After spending a couple hours of shopping, we roamed the park and went camera happy.

I love this park. Okay, is there anything I don’t love about NYC, minus the dirty subway?!

Later that evening, we met up with our friends, Elaine and Helena, at my most favorite restaurant ever, Ippudo. Seriously, it’s the best ramen I have ever eaten. Every time we’re in the city, this is a must visit for us. You really haven’t eaten good ramen unless you’ve been here. That’s no joke either!

After dinner, I wasn’t ready to head back to the hotel. Why rest when the city awaits adventure?! …so we decided to hit up our most favorite park, Washington Square Park. It’s a special place for us, so when the first snowfall for NYC started falling, it was absolutely perfect.

Playing in the park just wasn’t enough. We weren’t ready to head back home. We walked over towards the West Village and stopped at my favorite cupcake place ever, Magnolia’s, to pick up a late midnight snack. It wouldn’t be a trip to NYC without a vanilla cupcake.

Day 3: It was an icy, cold rain day, but that didn’t stop us. I still made Gloria come out with me to wait in the already backed up cronut line at Dominique Ansel’s Bakery. Last trip, I really, really wanted to try the renowned cronut, but we ran out of time. This time, it was on the priority list. Glad that we made it a priority because I have never had anything like it. If you haven’t already heard, Dominique Ansel created a hybrid pastry that combines the deliciousness from both croissants and donuts. I loved that it was not oily like some donuts and croissants can be. Let’s just say It was so worth the wait in the freezing, cold rain.

Oh, and every month, the cronut flavor changes. For the month of December, it was a dark chocolate spiked with champagne. Um… Dark chocolate?! Champagne?! Talk about a perfect combination! Yum.

Later that day, it was a shopping day, hah! When is it not a shopping day for me?! Anyway, one of my most favorite shopping spots in the city – Soho! Love, love, love this area for the shopping.

…and then it was time for us to head to Princeton. Such a quaint university town!

Day 4: I woke up to the snow coming down! It was magical. Thank goodness we were in a hotel. I didn’t want to be shoveling out a driveway or anything, hah!

After Gloria was finished with her presentations for work, we headed towards Palmer Square and took an afternoon walk around the gorgeous Princeton campus.

Day 5: Gloria had a full day of work, so it was a solo day for me. What better than go back to the city and roam the city streets alone?!

First stop was Bryant Park. It’s such a charming, quaint park.

…and for lunch I wanted Shake Shack, so I braved the crowds at the Times Square Shack Shack.

After food, I walked towards Radio City.

As you can see, there were lots and lots of Christmas decorations on the city sidewalks. It really is magical during Christmastime.

Here are some other pictures from our trip:

Day 6: Time to head home. Boo. However, I’m not going to fret  because I know we’ll be going back soon. It seems that both of us have left our hearts in New York City.


Filed under family, holiday, personal, vacation